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Controversy in Shenzhen mars opening of FA Cup 3rd Round

Yesterday was full of action and close calls for Chinese Super League sides as they entered the CFA Cup, but it was all overshadowed by events in Shenzhen. The Shenzhen Ruby players, claiming to have not been paid for most of 2014, came out with a protest banner during warm ups and stood with their back to their opponents, Shandong Luneng, for the first 30 seconds of the match.

Salary issues appear to have started last summer, with the club regularly promising to pay and not coming through. Having not paid any of the players salaries for 2014, the club promised on June 30th to pay the players by July 11, when that deadline came and went, the players decided on this protest method. Despite the lack of payment, the team has fought hard throughout the season and currently sits in 7th place, only six points away from a CSL promotion spot. However, yesterday they went down in the opening minutes to Shandong in what was always going to be an uphill battle, hampered further by 2nd half injuries that saw the side use up their subs and finished the match with only eight players on the pitch. The result was a 5-0 victory for Shandong, who will travel back to Guangdong province in the next round when they take on Guangzhou R&F.

Rightfully, the post-match discussion ignored the result and was instead about how payment issues in Chinese football aren’t all that unusual. Shenzhen manager, and former top footballer, Li Yi declared that his players had it worse than migrant workers, while Guangzhou Evergrande bad boy Qin Sheng called for a player’s union and wanted a united front among Chinese footballers. There appears to be internal conflict in the club, with one member of upper management claiming the players disrespected the fans, while another said that he could understand the players’ action.

In other action, top CSL sides Evergrande and Beijing Guoan both slid by with 1-0 wins against Sunray Cave and Shenyang, respectively, with Yu Hanchao opening his Evergrande account. There were a few upsets as Qingdao Hainiu crushed Tianjin Teda 4-1 and despite being near bottom of the table, Yanbian defeated Dalian Aerbin 2-0. Beijing Institute of Technology almost made it one more China League upset, but lost to Hangzhou Greentown on penalties. The other matches saw Guizhou Renhe defeat Tianjin Songjiang 2-0, Shanghai Shenhua won away at Chongqing Lifan 3-0, while crosstown rivals Shenxin managed a 2-1 win over Meizhou Kejia.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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